As the culmination of an Avenues education, the upper grades (9–12) at Avenues New York offer an academic program of unparalleled rigor and depth, enriched with abundant opportunities for the discovery and pursuit of passions. As students avail themselves of greater choice and independence in their academic work in these years, we attend more closely than ever to their personal development and wellbeing, nurturing them through the transition to high school, and then mentoring them through the college process with individualized guidance and care. All of this unfolds within a diverse and vibrant community where every student can find their place.
The upper grades program begins by establishing a foundation of integrated, interdisciplinary studies before allowing students to sharpen their focus in a range of advanced electives. As students progress towards graduation, they are given increasing choice and freedom to direct their own studies, with opportunities to take advanced-level coursework in the sciences and humanities, as well as access to a range of signature programs including the Avenues Institute for Advanced Mathematics, the Avenues Humanities Fellowship and the Mastery Learning System. The Avenues World Elements define both the learning experiences and the learning outcomes that our students work towards across all their classes.
As part of our integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the humanities, in the upper grades, English is taught in conjunction with World Course. By reading literary texts alongside historical ones, students develop a holistic understanding of what makes us human, over the ages and across the world. Students develop a range of skills from the Avenues World Elements table, including reading, writing, discussion, public speaking, and empathy, while engaging with classic works, and exploring questions of identity and meaning.
Grade 9: Global Humanities Foundations: English
Students develop a foundational understanding of world civilizations and literature. While studying the rise of ancient China, India, Islam and the emergence of the West in their World Course class, they read origin stories and coming-of-age narratives from various literary genres, and develop their own skills as storytellers in English. Texts for study have included novels such as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Joy Luck Club, and Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey.
Grade 10: Global Humanities Modernization: English
Students engage with the causes and effects of modern globalization, and what literature can teach us about them. While studying significant chapters in the history of modernization–colonization, the Enlightenment, the scientific and industrial revolutions, the rise of modern Islam and the World Wars–students examine the human impact of globalization through the literature of displacement, migration and identity. Texts for study have included: Frankenstein, Wake and Things Fall Apart.
Grade 11: American Literature
In this interdisciplinary course, students learn to think about America from two angles: the historical forces–such as slavery, Indian removal and imperialism–shaping American society, and how storytelling and mythmaking have contributed to the shaping of national identity. Students also develop their skills as writers, crafting personal essays that draw on their own experiences, values and beliefs. Texts for study have included The Great Gatsby, selected poems by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, and essays by James Baldwin, Margaret Fuller, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Grade 12: World Literature
Students engage with a range of literary genres with attention to questions of style, structure, and meaning. Texts are drawn from those that examine issues of race, class, gender and sexuality, originating from global perspectives and traditions. Writing assignments range from poetry and short stories to personal and analytical essays. Texts for study have included personal narratives by Ishmael Beah, Charles Blow, Michelle Zauner and Karl Ove Knausgard.
- Advanced Humanities: The New Yorker (10)
- Advanced Journalism (11–12)
- Shakespeare’s Masterpieces (11–12)
- Advanced Shakespeare’s Masterpieces (11–12)
In grades 9–11, the World Course is part of an intensive, interdisciplinary humanities program taught in conjunction with English. In grade 12, the Senior Seminar rounds out the World Course pathway. In grades 11–12, students may also choose from a range of humanities electives (see next section).
Grade 9: Global Humanities Foundations: World Course
In World Course 9, students develop social science and research skills that are critical for success in high school, higher education and life. While engaging with the work of prominent philosophers, political scientists and historians, students examine Ancient Greece, Rome and selected Asian, African and Central/South American civilizations through the interpretative lenses of power and social structures.
Grade 10: Global Humanities Modernization: World Course
This course examines the causes and effects of modernization and globalization, from the Enlightenment through the rise of decolonization movements around the world after the Cold War. Students make connections between historical and contemporary events, with particular reference to international politics, social and economic stratification, and the environment.
Grade 11: American Studies: World Course
This class examines the concept of the American Dream and how its definition has evolved over time based on social, political and economic conditions. Drawing on the fields of history and literary studies, students investigate the untold and sometimes troubling aspects of America’s past, and explore how storytelling and mythmaking have contributed to the shaping of national identity.
World Course Electives
- Advanced History (10)
- Eastern Philosophy (11–12)
- International Relations and Globalization (11–12)
- Philosophy: What is Wisdom? (11–12)
- Advanced Philosophy: What is Wisdom? (11–12)
Integrated Math (grades 8–11)
Integrated Math is a four-year, seminar-style class in which students deepen their understanding of mathematical reasoning and learn to articulate mathematical concepts accurately in both writing and discussion. In all four years of Integrated Math, a STEM section is available for students who have demonstrated a capacity and desire to extend their exploration of curricular topics to STEM applications.
In 9th grade, students take Integrated Math 2, a seminar-style class covering Pythagorean theorem, slope, triangles, vectors, linear motion, parametric equations, and Euclidean geometry.
In 10th grade, students take Integrated Math 3, a seminar-style class that covers fundamental geometry skills, including an extended study of volume and trigonometry. Later in the year, students explore matrices, exponential functions, and logarithms.
In 11th grade, students may take either Integrated Math 4 (a prerequisite for a 12th grade calculus course) or Integrated Math with Data and Probability (for students interested in statistics).
In 11th and 12th grade, the following electives are available:
- Advanced Multivariable Calculus (global elective) (11–12)
- Statistics (11–12)
- Data Science (11–12)
- Introduction to Calculus (12)
- Calculus (12)
- Advanced Calculus (12)
In 9th grade, students take Integrated Science 1, in which they learn to think and behave like scientists and engineers. The course fosters a deep understanding of concepts such as energy transfer and system dynamics that are foundational for all fields of science and engineering. Students engage in authentic scientific investigations and engineering design projects.
Integrated Science 2 follows in 10th grade, with continued emphasis on cultivating scientific habits of mind and practice. Through laboratory exploration, group discussions and readings, students develop an understanding of the properties, structure and behavior of matter, as well as energy systems on a global scale through the lens of climate change.
In grade 11, students take biochemistry, an in-depth study of the chemical processes that drive biology. The course promotes a deep understanding and appreciation of complexity, diversity and the interconnectedness of life on earth, from the molecular level to the level of the organism. Topics include cell metabolism; classical and molecular genetics and evolutionary theory; and energy transformations. Students engage in extensive laboratory investigations, including dissections, and investigate biotechnological solutions to modern problems across medicine, food production and human wellbeing.
- Advanced Physics (10)
- Advanced Physics (global elective) (11–12)
- Cosmology and Astronomy (11–12)
- Advanced Chemistry (11–12)
- Advanced Physics with Calculus (12)
- Advanced Biology (12)
With guidance from a visiting professor of chemistry, 9th grade students learned how to test water for lead.
In both the Mandarin Chinese and Spanish language tracks, students progress their skills through a series of year-long courses, ranging from introductory to intermediate to advanced, while advancing in all four areas of the Avenues Language Scale: oration, discussion, writing and reading. Ninth grade students begin at the level appropriate for them. By 12th grade, many students are in a position to choose from advanced electives exploring literature, culture and society in their respective target languages.
Mandarin Chinese courses
- Chinese 1: Discovery (9–10)
- Chinese 2: Breakthrough (9–10)
- Chinese 3: Exploration (9–12)
- Chinese 4: Empowerment (9–12)
- Advanced Chinese 5: Changing China: History and Society (9–10)
- Advanced Chinese 5: Changing China: Literature and Arts (11–12)
- Spanish 1: Discovery (9–10)
- Spanish 2: Breakthrough (9–10)
- Spanish 3: Exploration (9–12)
- Spanish 4: Empowerment (9–12)
- Advanced Spanish 5: New World: Latin America (9–10)
- Advanced Spanish 5: Contemporary Society: Social Media and Culture (11–12)
Students in grades 10–12 may choose from a robust menu of electives in the social sciences, including philosophy, sociology, psychology, business, and economics.
- Business Strategy (global elective)
- Psychology (global elective)
- Anthropology: The Rise of Humanity
- Consciousness, Ethics and the Search for Meaning
- Philosophy of Economics
- Solving Big Problems with Big Data
Visual Arts and Design
In grade 9, students may choose to take Introduction to the Creative Process, a full-year studio course in which they create a range of original artworks while reflecting on and documenting their process.
In grade 10, students may choose a visual arts workshop from drawing and painting, mixed media, photography, or sculpture. An elective in digital art is also available. These workshops are prerequisites for higher level art classes in 11th and 12th grades.
In grades 11–12, students may choose from a range of electives:
- Advanced Art Studio I and II
- Ceramics Studio I and II
- Film and Animation (global elective)
- Film Studio I and II
- Studio Practice
Design and Engineering
In grades 9–12, students may choose to take the Design and Engineering Workshop, which meets in Avenues’ maker space, the iLab. Through project work, students develop foundational skills in design thinking, fabrication (including CAD, 3D printing, woodworking and metalworking), and computer programming.
In grades 10–12, students may choose from the following:
- Computer Science: Programming Foundations (global elective)
- Advanced Computer Science (global elective)
Students may participate in Avenues’ Robotics: FIRST Tech Challenge, a competitive robotics program which participates in league competitions.
Students may choose from a range of electives in the performing arts, with a focus on music. In addition, our after-school drama club allows students with strong interest in the performing arts to showcase their talent through several annual drama productions including plays, musicals, cabarets, open-mics, and more.
- Introduction to the Creative Process: Music (9)
- Vocal Workshop (9–10)
- Advanced Music (9–12)
- Instrumental Music Workshop (10)
- Music Theory and Practice Workshop (11–12)
In a public park with views to the Statue of Liberty, the drama club found a poignant venue for its performance of a play about migration.
Developed by the Avenues R&D team, High-Intensity Practice (HIP) is premised on the idea that frequent, intense practice of key thinking skills over a period of years—specifically, empathy, creativity, abstraction, metacognition, critical thinking, mental agility, and planning—can significantly improve working memory, cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control, and possibly even fluid intelligence.
In 9th grade, the HIP methodology is applied to both coding and Mastery, one of Avenues’ signature learning experiences. In Principles of HIP and Mastery, students develop foundational thinking skills and then apply them to an area of interest and passion, in preparation for additional Mastery experiences in the later grades. In HIP Thinking Through Coding, students undertake coding challenges designed to develop advanced problem-solving skills, creativity and critical thinking.
In 10th grade HIP, students continue to develop and exercise flexible thinking skills through regular writing and math practice.
All students take Wellness and Movement (WAM) throughout their time in the upper grades. In grades 9-10, students build a foundation for lifelong active pursuits and personal wellbeing, both in theory and practice. They explore a range of movement and fitness activities, cultivating aerobic endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. Wellness discussions focus on healthy decision-making in regard to mental health, stress management, nutrition, sleep and drug and alcohol use. A sexual health unit supports students to explore their own personal values and build safe and healthy relationships.
In grades 11–12, students choose from a range of movement courses, in addition to participating in discussions and projects focused on topics including mental health, coping strategies, sexual health, relationship skills and healthy decision-making. Movement course options include:
- Studio WAM (yoga, pilates, aerobics)
- Personal fitness (weight lifting and circuit training)
- Court sports (basketball, volleyball, badminton, floor hockey)
- Community WAM (spinning, boxing, HIIT at local fitness studios)
- Independent movement (e.g. out-of-school activities or commitment to at least two athletics teams)
A college-level interdisciplinary learning experience that defies categorization, Senior Seminar represents the pinnacle of an Avenues education. Each year, readings and discussions focus on a particular theme in the humanities and social sciences (in 2023-24, the theme is China). Students think critically and work collaboratively, exploring applications of what they have learned throughout their time at Avenues. Students complete both a group research project and an independent research project as part of the class.
Upper Grades by Numbers
Community Engagement and Service
Community engagement and service learning are woven throughout the Avenues curriculum from nursery through 12th grade. In the upper grades, students "leap the walls of our campus" as volunteers and interns with local non-profits, elected officials, and other community leaders. They also lead gradewide Community Days in partnership with our faculty to engage in service with–rather than for–multiple citywide organizations and partners.
Community Days provide students with opportunities to perform meaningful service in concert with local partner organizations.
Each year upper grades students can choose from more than 80 clubs and affinity groups designed to extend academic work, foster belonging, and enable students to pursue their passions in greater depth. Students are encouraged and supported to propose their own clubs in partnership with faculty advisors–an opportunity for them to develop their leadership and community-building skills. Below is a small sampling of current upper grades clubs and affinity groups.
- LGBTQ+ 联盟
- 机器人： 第一乐高联盟
As part of a DEI-themed club, upper grades students organised a series of workshops for the annual Awareness Day.